SALT LAKE CITY — Will people still have to wear masks in Salt Lake County after the state mandate expires? For some places, yes. County leaders will be making an official decision on a potential mask mandate, but Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson is calling on everyone to continue to wear masks for the foreseeable future, no matter what the decision is.
“Here in Salt Lake County, please continue to wear a face covering,” Wilson announced during a press conference at the Millcreek Community Center.
The actual decision on whether or not the county will have a mask mandate isn’t solely up to Wilson. The leadership of the Salt Lake County Health Department will determine if they believe a mandate is needed. The County Council is expected to vote on the matter on Friday, basing its decision on the recommendations of health officials.
Wilson said she’s pleased the rate of new cases continues to fall in Salt Lake County, but even the experts are still learning about how COVID-19 is spreading.
She said, “The CDC is measuring, right now, impacts throughout our country and the spread rates of COVID-19. By their metrics, we’re still at the ‘substantial’ transmission level.”
While she doesn’t have the authority to issue a mandate across the entire county, she says she can call on business owners to require customers to wear masks. Plus, she will mandate masks be worn in county-run facilities like libraries and recreation centers.
Wilson said only one-third of county residents are fully immune from COVID-19, so she believes it’s too early to ease up on mask usage.
“One-third of our population is not enough of a threshold for us to be safe,” she said.
Plus, there is a long waiting list for people who still want to get the vaccine, and Wilson believes face coverings will be essential to slow the spread while people wait to get vaccinated.
“We still get hundreds of phone calls to our phone banks to get a vaccine, to make that appointment. Unfortunately, we’re telling people that the earliest is likely May,” she said.